Almeida Henriques was in faro to sign a protocol to provide citizens advice shops in all areas of Portugal to provide information about the different legal mechanisms that are in place in the country to try and protect individuals and families who are facing great financial difficulties or who are close to defaulting on their payments to the bank.
The Portuguese news agency reported that Aleida Henriques said: “We are here today to sign this protocol to provide citizens advice and information for everyone across the country and we need the media to be able to convey this message to everyone in Portugal.”
He stressed that the government has put in place several legal mechanisms to try yo help people including “mandatory banking for when a person or family is at risk of being a state of debt or is about to default on a loan. We can inform people how to submit a recovery plant to avoid this situation.”
He added that there are extrajudicial procedures in place to stop banks from proceeding to execute an action against a person who is defaulting on payment without first passing through a phase of negotiation.
“There is a period of 90 days that the banks and the individual can negotiate a term of payment or a payment plan”, he said.
He noted that the government wants to see a series of citizens advice centres across the country to help people with financial problems but that the Algarve is the only region in the country that has not applied for a centre.
Those working at the centres will be doing so on a “pro bono” basis but full training will be given by the government to help support the staff at the centres in their work and the minister stressed that it was important that the Algarve embraced this initiative to try and help the people in the region - an area that has the highest level of unemployment in the country.
Portugal is currently in the middle of an enormous economic crisis with the government implementing many austerity measures to try and pull it out of the financial mire however many of these measures have been met with controversy and disapproval from the people of Portugal who have already faced tax hikes, wage cuts and rising unemployment levels.
By offering advice to people the government hope that it will show that they are sensitive to the needs of the people – although there are no signs that the austerity measures will be coming to an end anytime soon.